If I had a penny for every time I raved about exfoliation, I’d be a billionarie.
And I’m not done, yet.
Because exfoliation is awesome. It’s one of the best things you can do for your skin, and if you ain’t doing it already, you need to jump on this bandwagon ASAP, my smart friend.
Here are all the reasons why:
- 1. Exfoliation Makes Skin Smoother…
- 2. … And Brighter
- 3. Exfoliation Lightens Dark Spots
- 4. Exfoliation Gets Rid Of Pimples, Blackheads, And Whiteheads
- 5. Exfoliation Prevents Breakouts
- 6. Exfoliation Shrinks Pores
- 7. Exfoliation Speeds Up Cellular Turnover
- 8. Exfoliation Boosts Your Skincare Routine
- 9. Exfoliation Makes Makeup Go On Evenly
- 10. Exfoliation Gives You An Even Tan
- How Do You Exfoliate Your Skin?
- The Bottom Line
1. Exfoliation Makes Skin Smoother…
Dead cells love piling up on the surface of your skin, making it rougher to the touch. Then, there are wrinkles. They make your skin fold and crease. A little bit of exfoliation will smooth everything out. Yep, even wrinkles. It won’t remove them completely, but it’ll make them look smaller.
Related: Treatment VS Prevention: What Really Works Against Wrinkles
2. … And Brighter
You know what else all those dead cells do to your skin? They rob it of its natural glow. If your skin’s been dull and lackluster lately, now you know what to blame. So, exfoliate away!
Struggling to put together a skincare routine that minimises wrinkles, prevents premature aging, and gives your complexion a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):
3. Exfoliation Lightens Dark Spots
Those skin cells on the surface are the oldest. The most sun damaged. That’s why they create darker spots on your face. Then, there are freckles, melasma, and well… there can be 100 reasons why your skin tone is darker in certain places and lighter in others. Whatever the cause, getting rid of those top dead cells will lighten those dark spots.
Related: The Battle Of The Skin-Lighteners: What’s The Best Alternative To Hydroquinone?
4. Exfoliation Gets Rid Of Pimples, Blackheads, And Whiteheads
If your skin’s producing way too much oil than it needs, some of it will remain trapped in your pores. Together with dead skin cells. When these two spend too much time together, they clog your pores. That’s a recipe for pimples, blackheads, whiteheads… all forms of acne, basically. Guess how you get rid of them? By exfoliating those pores, of course!
Related: The Difference Between Blackheads, Whiteheads, And Pimples And How To Treat Them
5. Exfoliation Prevents Breakouts
Getting rid of blackheads, breakouts and co is all well and good. But, wouldn’t it be even better if you didn’t have to deal with them in the first place? Exfoliate those pores regularly and you won’t have to. The gunk won’t have the time to accumulate in there fast enough.
Related: How To Get Rid Of Blackheads
6. Exfoliation Shrinks Pores
The size of your pores is genetically determined, so you can’t shrink it. But, when your pores are clogged, the crap in there will stretch them out, making them look a lot larger than they naturally are. If your pores are the size of an orange, you know now what to do. Exfoliate!
Related: 3 Ways To Shrink Large Pores
7. Exfoliation Speeds Up Cellular Turnover
Did you know that your skin renews itself every month or so? When it’s young. As it gets older, it needs a little helping hand to make that happen. Enter exfoliation. It speeds up the process, helping your skin get rid of old and damaged cells and replacing them with newer and healthier ones more quickly.
8. Exfoliation Boosts Your Skincare Routine
You can use the best skincare products in the world, but if they meet a thick wall of dead skin cells, they won’t be able to penetrate deep enough to do their job. If you want to see results quickly (or at all), remove all obstacles from their way.
Related: 4 Ways To Enhance The Penetration Of Your Skincare Products
9. Exfoliation Makes Makeup Go On Evenly
There’s nothing worse than a foundation that stubbornly clings to rough or flaky patches. It just makes you look ill and horrible. Give it a smooth canvas to adhere to instead. Exfoliation does the job quickly.
10. Exfoliation Gives You An Even Tan
You know what happens when you have a cluster of dead cells piling up here and there? You tan unevenly. Some parts of your face are a lovely golden brown. Others way too brown. If you want to look like a bronzed goddess, remove those piles of dead skin cells first.
How Do You Exfoliate Your Skin?
It depends on your skin type:
BEST EXFOLIANT FOR DRY AND SUN-DAMAGED SKIN: GLYCOLIC ACID
The gold standard of exfoliation, glycolic acid targets all the signs of aging, such as wrinkles and dark spots. It also hydrates skin and boost collagen production. Bye bye wrinkles!
- Alpha Skincare Enhanced Renewal Cream ($16.99): available at Ulta
- Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment With 5% AHA ($33.00): available at Dermstore, Paula’s Choice and Selfridges
- The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (£6.80): available at Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty
Related: The Best Exfoliants With Glycolic Acid
BEST EXFOLIANT FOR OILY AND ACNE-PRONE SKIN: SALICYLIC ACID
Salicylic acid is the only exfoliant that can get into the pores and unclog them from within. If breakouts and large pores are the bane of your existence, this is the way to go.
- Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief 1% BHA Lotion ($27.00): available at Feel Unique and Paula’s Choice
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid ($29.00): available at Dermstore and Paula’s Choice
- The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (£4.25): available at Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty
Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Keeping Oily Skin Blemish-Free
BEST EXFOLIANT FOR SENSITIVE SKIN: LACTIC ACID
Lactic acid is the gentlest exfoliant out there so if your skin is a diva prone to tantrums, make the introduction. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many exfoliants that only contain lactic acid, so you may have to spend a bit more to get your dose of TLC.
- Sunday Riley Good Genes (USA version) ($105.00): available at Sephora
- The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% (£5.50): available at Cult Beauty and Feel Unique
Related: 3 Ways To Exfoliate Sensitive Skin
The Bottom Line
If you crave smoother, brighter and younger-looking skin free from blemishes, exfoliation is the way to go. Just don’t overdo it. Two or three times a week is more than enough to give you the gorgeous skin you deserve.
I love acids. Yhis is my fifth winter using glycolic (thre or four times a week),and I won´t be changing that routine. I usually apply a 15% product, but sometimes I use one from Neostrar with 10% glycolic and 2% BHA. Amazing stuff to (almost) everyone´s skincare routine.
Nice post Gio.
Mrs Skincare, yay another fan of glycolic acid! After trying that one, it’s impossible to go back to anything else, isn’t it?
Love this post!
But is reallly a 5% glycolic or lactic acid enough to make any difference in the skin? And if so, is it enough to exfoliate two times a week, or will I be throwing money out the window?
I have used a ten% (PC weekly treatment) but this made my skin so sore and flaky. Ouch:(
Suzanne, can you please define difference? If you want to improve your skin’s texture, make it smoother and brighter, then yes 5% twice a week is enough. If you want to get rid of dark spots quickly, you may need something stronger. But if 10% is too strong for you, then yes I’d definitely try 5% twice a week. You can always increase dose or frequency when your skin becomes used to it. But with acids, it’s always better to start small.
Thank you! 🙂
By difference I meant will it be enough to give me the benefits of boosted collagen production and hydration. I don’t have any dark spots so that is not a concern.
I would like to try The Ordinaries Lactic Acid. Would love to see a review from you on this?
Yes, it will. Of course, a higher concentration would work faster but 5% is enough to benefit from it.
I will add it to my review list. 🙂 But lactic acid doesn’t boost collagen production. It just hydrates and exfoliates skin.
What about weekly use of “scrubbing” exfoliation products like Olay Regenerist Regenerating Cream Cleanser? Is there a reason the acids do a better job than a weekly gentle scrub in the shower with an exfoliating cleanser?
Maggie, I don’t like scrubs because they can easily irritate the skin and don’t exfoliate evenly. I’ve written why I’ve switched from scrubs to chemical exfoliants here http://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/why-i-prefer-chemical-exfoliants/
How many percent of lactic acid would you recommend for somneone with very sensitive skin (eczema-prone & rosacea-prone) in her early 20s? And how often?
Audrey, I’d use a small concentration (less than 10%) only once a week. 🙂
Hi Gio, I’m living in India, where currently, I’m battling temperatures that go up to 40 degrees, and the nights cool down to about 25. Major sun damage has perhaps already happened. (I’m new to the whole skincare thing) I was just wondering whether you had some tips for harsh tropical weather. My skin is perhaps combination, I have blackhead breakouts around my nose and cheeks, yet it can also be dry and flaky around the same area. My skin is super dull. I’m a huge fan of natural ingredients and organic stuff in general. Any tips? Hope I’m not asking for too much.
Iakshmi, I’d recommend sticking to lighter formulations that won’t feel heavy and greasy on your face. A hyaluronic acid serum is a great way to combat the flakiness and keep skin hydrated without adding too much oil to it. I’d also recommend exfoliating with glycolic acid. It makes skin glow and treats sun damage too.
Forgot to add….i’m 23 years.